Ferry Corsten: Full On Ferry

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You might’ve known him by his many monikers but Ferry Corsten is the man that has singlehandedly initiated revolution in dance music – one that’s long since touched millions of people all around the world. He has played for festivals such as Trance Energy, Amsterdam Dance Event and Ultra Music Festival. In Malaysia, he’s played for the Freedom Festival, Zouk, and just recently for the new Heineken bottle launch party at KL Live on 11 July, which was off the hook! Despite the superstardom and being a god in the trance scene, our experience with him was a warm and humble one. JUICE had a chat with the man himself about his early days in the scene, his new album, and… ice-cream?

What kind of music did you listen to as a kid?
I grew up listening to music in the ‘80s so I’ve always been a big fan of the early ‘80s hip hop and early dance music. I’ve always listened to that kind of stuff. Later when I started to play with and produce music, I started listening to non-dance related music. More like classical music and jazz. I’ve never been into rock too much though.

How did you fall in love with trance and what made you want to produce this genre of music the most?
It’s the melody. I’m a melody man in that sense. Melody is the element in music that gives it emotion and that’s something I love experimenting with. It’s just incredible what you can do with harmonies. If Mozart and people from his time would have lived today and made dance music… they would’ve made trance.

You were pursuing your studies in electrical engineering, how important is it to have formal education as a DJ?
In general, you should focus on education. A DJ is not one of those jobs that you can study for and become. It’s something that you do as a hobby and it grows bigger but there’s no guarantee that you will be very successful in it. I feel very privileged that I do what I do. I’ve always done this as a hobby but with my background, I have something different to fall back on and that was my studies as an electrical engineer. It was very important for me to finish my studies.

Trance has blended with so many genres now and it has received mixed reviews from the trance fans and music lovers in general. What would you want trance to develop into in the future?
I’m so amazed at how the trance purists are so harsh when it comes to criticism that trance is developing into something else. I think we should all be very proud of what trance is right now because house wouldn’t be as big right now without trance. If you listen to the current house music like SHM and that style of music, it basically has the big ol’ trance melodies only in a slowed down way. It’s the big anthemic melodies that make those records so big right now and that’s what trance is all about. I have no preference to where I want trance to go. Right now I see trance moving to a slower pace which is closer to house but one of the most important thing about trance is that it stays melodic and emotional whether its 100BPM or 180BPM.

Ferry Corsten, Armin van Buuren and Tiesto are the big names in trance. Why are the best trance DJ/sproducers Dutch and what is the significance of trance music in the Netherlands?
The funny thing is that we don’t have any trance club in Holland. Everybody must think “Oh yeah, Holland must have the best trance scene in the world” but no. It has one of the worst maybe! Over here in Holland there’s not much going on. All the clubs are house or tech house and some of the bigger events like Trance Energy and A State of Trance are basically the only ones that are really doing trance. I think it’s also because it’s such a small scene and we’re so close together especially when you talk about Armin, Tiesto and me back in the day we were always hanging out together. So we were always very close with our music together even with people like Rank1 and Marco V. It was a very small niche kind of scene and I think that propelled the sound to the rest of the world.

What do you see influencing your music in the next few years and can we look forward to anything in particular?
I’ve always been open minded about music. I know I’ve had my big breakthrough with trance but I’ve always experimented with other music. Even when I released the System F album back in 2001, there are already tracks in it that you can classify as electro house. ‘Punk’ and ‘Rock Your Body Rock’ were considered very different then. The main thing is my love for melody that will probably keep me in the trance scene but in the end if you listen to WKND, it’s almost very housey. It’s blending sounds that create new genres so we will see what that is like in the future.